Mobile Gift Cards, Shopkick & Google Wallet, Oh My

Three disparate pieces of recent news point to some interesting directions in the world of mobile commerce.

The National Retail Federation is forecasting that most (80%) of holiday shoppers will buy at least one gift card this season and many will be digital, thanks to mobile devices.

And after cash, which almost a third (31%) want for Christmas, according to the new DDB Life Style Study, the top desire is a gift card to a retailer, preferred by 14% of adults.

Meanwhile, three-year-old Shopkick is introducing technology that will let users know they need to load the app when they enter a store so they can receive points or ‘kicks.’ The company will be using Apple’s relatively new iBeacon technology to make recommendations and offer deals when a participating shopper enters a store.

When I met with Cyriac Roeding, CEO and co-founder of Shopkick recently, he told me that many Shopkick users are researching on their mobile device at home before heading to the store. As a result, Shopkick knows what consumers like and can remind them when they enter the store.

The new technology approach will allow Shopkick to remind consumers to turn on the app so they can be reminded of what they like. This completes what Roeding refers to as the idea of an arc from couch to store.

And the third in the string of announcements is that Google is launching a plastic debit card to access Google Wallet accounts. The MasterCard-branded card will let customers buy things at stores and use ATMs.

So while holiday shoppers are in the process of moving to mobile digital gift cards from physical retailers, mobile digital wallets are moving to the physical world of plastic.

This is while a shopping app the equivalent of a mobile mall enhances its technology to lead shoppers to products in physical stores.

Mobile, digital activity continues to become more closely integrated with the physical environment. And it’s a two-way street.

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